The incredible honor of serving in the Legislature for the last decade has given me first hand contact with thousands of fellow Cherokee countians. One message that has become crystal clear from voters is the need for tax reform.
Nov. 6 we will go to the polls and choose whether to shift from a property tax to a sales tax for funding our local Cherokee County government.
The question is whether to vote “Yes” or “No” on the HOST (Homestead Option Sales Tax).
In deciding on HOST, we will answer a fundamental question, is there a better way to collect taxes than taxing private property?
If we approve HOST, an additional 1 percent sales tax will be collected throughout our county. The tax will be collected in the same manner as current optional sales taxes, like SPLOST and E-SPLOST. Every dollar collected will then go to reduce property taxes.
The process for property tax reduction is fairly straightforward.
First, the county portion of property tax, for every homestead property, will be eliminated. This is expected to account for about 60 percent of all tax dollars collected.
Second, the remaining tax dollars will go to reduce the county portion of non-homestead property taxes by more than half.
What does this mean for the average Cherokee County homeowner?
It is estimated overall tax burden for the average homeowner will be reduced almost $100. This takes into account the average savings from the reduction in property tax and the average increase from the 1 percent sales tax.
If the taxes collected through the 1 percent sales tax equals the property tax reduction how are there savings for Cherokee homeowners?
It’s estimated somewhere between 15 to 20 percent of purchases in Cherokee County are from non-Cherokee homeowners. These are people who use some Cherokee County government services, but who pay no Cherokee property taxes.
By implementing the HOST it shifts tax burden from Cherokee homeowners to non-Cherokee residents.
Most economists agree that proper taxation should have certain characteristics.
First it should be transparent. Taxpayers should be able to readily see how the system works.
Second, it should be fair. Exemptions, favors, and government picking “winners and losers” should be eliminated.
Third, it should be easy to understand. Simplicity encourages compliance and lessens the need for a government “tax collection” bureaucracy.
The HOST offers Cherokee County voters opportunity to move away from convoluted, unfair, and bureaucracy laden property taxes to simpler, more fair, and easy to understand sales tax.
A dollar-for-dollar shift away from property tax to a sales tax, with about 15 to 20 percent of the burden being shifted from Cherokee homeowners to non-Cherokee residents.
The choice on how we tax ourselves is ours. The decision is Nov. 6.
State Sen. Chip Rogers